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Mercer Student Awarded National Fellowship to Study History this Summer

April 21, 2011

Media Contact: Mark Vanderhoek, (478) 301-4037 or

MACON – Mercer University student Kim Campbell has been awarded a SHEAR/Mellon Fellowship to study history this summer. Campbell, a history major from Hawkinsville, will spend several weeks in Philadelphia doing archival work for her senior thesis and will attend a seminar for the fellows. The rising senior is one of only 10 students chosen from across the nation for this year’s fellowship, which is sponsored by the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

As part of the fellowship, students become a part of a community of historians and are mentored by the center’s teacher-scholars, who are dedicated to assisting undergraduate fellows achieve their scholarly potential. The seminar’s main focus is to help all the fellows define what will essentially turn into an honors thesis, but they will also spend time doing group readings and discussing historiography.

“We’re thrilled that Kim has won this fellowship. This is the first time one of our majors has been selected for this fellowship, and it affirms our long-standing commitment to promote undergraduate research,” said Dr. Sarah Gardner, professor and chair of the history department at Mercer. “Kim has done great work here in the department to lay the foundation for this project. We’re excited for her, and what this means in her development as a scholar, and to seeing the final product of this research next year.”

While in Philadelphia, Campbell will be working on a project titled “The Pirate Ideal,” which examines Southern gentlemen’s reading habits in the decades leading up to the Civil War. She will spend two weeks in June at the McNeil Center. Part of the fellowship includes access to the archives at the American Philosophical Society, the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.

“I am excited about not only the opportunity to pursue my own research under the direction of such distinguished members of the historical profession, but also for the chance to visit and experience one of the United States’ most historically significant cities,” Campbell said.

Campbell said that Mercer has made her honors possible and expressed her gratitude for the help she received from faculty members in the history department. “Mercer has established and promotes the kind of environment that allows underclassmen leadership opportunities that are integral for résumés and, more importantly, for fostering the values necessary to succeed at the next level. Without the department’s emphasis on original research, I would have never received this fellowship.”

Although she plans to attend graduate school, Campbell is not sure whether she will pursue a more traditional program in history or explore a related field, she said. She is interested in the antebellum South, particularly what literary symbols and romantic heroes tell about masculinity at that time. Campbell said that the experience this summer will help her decide the best graduate school option.

About the SHEAR/Mellon Undergraduate Fellowship Program
The SHEAR/Mellon Undergraduate Fellowship Program, founded in 2005, is dedicated to providing talented, motivated undergraduate scholars the opportunity to pursue original primary source research in some of the finest archival collections relevant to early American history. Ten highly competitive fellowships are awarded annually to rising seniors preparing to undertake thesis projects at liberal arts colleges. Undergraduate fellows receive stipends for travel, housing and other living expenses for the duration of the seminar in Philadelphia as they complete two weeks of intensive seminar sessions in historiography and critique and individual archival research.

About Mercer University
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University enrolls more than 8,200 students in 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies – on major campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah and at four regional academic centers across the state. Mercer is affiliated with two teaching hospitals — Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah and the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, and has educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta. The University operates an academic press and a performing arts center in Macon and an engineering research center in Warner Robins. Mercer is the only private university in Georgia to field an NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit
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